February Haul!

Happy end of February! This month has just flown by. Even with it being a leap year and having one extra day in February, I still feel like it just started yesterday. Somehow it is already almost March and will be spring before we know! Time flies when we’re having fun!!

I have been SOOO good with not buying books this month. We are really trying to save for this wedding we have next year, so I’ve been utilizing the library more now than I normally would! I still have some books to talk about – I can never go a month without getting at least one!!

SUBSCRIPTION BOX BOOKS

This month I only got the Owlcrate book of the month and an Owlcrate special edition book. I skipped BOTM because I wasn’t invested in any of the choices.

  1. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto – special edition sequel
  2. All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1), Adalyn Grace

AMAZON

I was also gifted a book and got in a preorder this month! Ember Queen was a gift from my fiance for Valentine’s Day 🙂

  1. Ember Queen (Ash Princess #3), Laura K. Sebastian
  2. The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller

Let me know if you picked up, or have read, any of these books this month! Ember Queen and The Shadows Between Us are definitely on my March TBR!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – We Are Blood and Thunder

Title: We Are Blood and Thunder (We Are Blood and Thunder #1)

Author: Kesia Lupo

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020 (US version)

448 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine … Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Bloomsbury YA, and Kesia Lupo for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Note, the cover art included in this post if the UK cover art, which I prefer! For the US cover, please visit Goodreads! The UK edition published April 4th, 2019.

We Are Blood and Thunder is a tale of hidden magic and betrayal. Lena is a cryptling, she is Marked and was forfeited to the crypt in Duke’s Forest at birth to work for the rest of her life. Constance is a mage, which is not accepted within Duke’s Forest, even though she is the heir to the duchy. Lena and Constance’s paths cross as Lena is escaping the duchy after being convicted and sentences to death for being a mage. Constance is returning to the duchy to regain her rightful place as heir. Their paths will cross again, but in a much different context…

The magic system in WABAT is very different than what I’ve read before, and I felt like it could have been explained better. I am still somewhat confused as to how it works. I would have liked some more world-building. The characters were well described and given a clear background, which I always appreciate in fantasy novels as that can be skipped at times. There is a touch of romance, but not enough to take the attention away from the story line.

Overall, I was going to rate this lower until I got to the end and was completely shocked by the twist. I had a hard time getting into the book and being invested, but the twist ending caught me completely by surprise and I give the author a lot of credit for that! I automatically like a book twice as much if the author manages to surprise me with a twist.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi (Dimple and Rishi #1)

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: May 22nd, 2018

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Review

**Read via audiobook**

When Dimple Met Rishi tells the tale of… well… when Dimple met Rishi! Dimple just graduated from high school and is getting ready to attend Stanford and become a coder. But, all her mom wants is for her to find the Ideal Indian Husband and get married. That’s where Rishi comes in. Rishi wants nothing more than to get married and please his parents. Dimple and Rishi’s parents set it up so they meet at a web design summer program, but only Rishi knows this and Dimple is thrown for a loop. The book follows their story.

Okay, so this was a very generic YA contemporary book. Dimple is “not an ordinary girl”, which is a huge and sometimes annoying theme in YA. She’s kind of not a great character, and is frankly pretty selfish. Rishi deserves better, though I do believe Dimple starts to get better by the end of the book and realizes some of her nonsense is… nonsense.

The plot was about this web design camp… but we never actually get to hear about the camp?? They are there for 8 weeks and you hear about it only a few times in filler conversation. The book is more about where they are eating dinner and working on a talent show act that is inexplicably a part of a web design camp?? I have questions.

Throughout the book I just wanted to yell at Dimple and say, “You’re allowed to date and ALSO attend school to have a future and a career – it truly is possible to multitask! The two are not mutually exclusive!!” So much of the book wouldn’t be necessary if she understood this very simple concept.

Overall, it was good but nowhere near great. If the feeling ever strikes, I will give the companion novels a try – but I’m not thinking that will be any time soon. Rishi was the upside to this entire story because he was so pure of heart and wanted the best for everybody. I would read more about Rishi for sure.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Sound of Stars

Title: The Sound of Stars

Author: Alechia Dow

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: February 25th, 2020

400 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Alechia Dow for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Sound of Stars reminds me a lot of The Host by Stephanie Meyer, where alien forces invade Earth and take over the humans. There is a fun sci-fi twist where the aliens, Ilori, are labmade to resemble humans in order to survive the atmosphere. Ellie is a human looking to stay alive, M0Rr1S is a special labmade Ilori in command of Ellie’s quadrant in NYC. The universe brings them together in a way that they did not expect – and they become an unlikely pair.

I wasn’t sure how to rate this, because my feelings changed frequently during this book. I had a hard time getting into it, was very interested in the middle, and got lost again in the end. The end made it seem like this will be a duology, which I wasn’t expecting because it doesn’t look like any has been announced. I went in expecting a stand-alone, so the fact that it didn’t end well wrapped up threw me off.

I do love the concept, because I loved The Host. As more information is released you become more sympathetic to the Ilori, which was well thought out and constructed. I just wish for more in the beginning that would have captured my attention, and a less confusing ending.

The Sound of Stars brings a new voice into sci-fi with great LGBTQIA representation (all the aliens introduce themselves by name and gender identity). Many characters are non-binary and our female MC is self-reported as demi-ace… (makes me think this may be an Own Voices work?). There is also a lot of political, racial, and environmental discussions that draws direct lines to today’s climate, which is refreshing to read and an addition that caused me to rate this book higher.

Happy reading, bookish friends 🙂

Book Review – The Women's War

Title: The Women’s War (Women’s War #1)

Author: Jenna Glass

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Publication date: March 5th, 2019

560 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.

When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the crossroads of change.

Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband…. Only, Ellin has other ideas.

The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.

Review

Welcome to a world where women are treated as objects and no one cares about them. Basically an exaggerated form of our current world, with magic thrown in and I’m here for it. I had some initial difficulty getting into this book, and it is a chunker, but once it started to pick up I really enjoyed it and all the characters.

The Women’s World has several POV’s, across kingdoms and genders in this world. Women do not have rights and are treated as objects to be traded or owned. They are not allowed to do anything without permission, and if they are deemed unmarriageable they are shipped off to any Abbey to be forced into sexual slavery for the kingdom. Women cannot do magic, even though they are perfectly capable, and woman’s magic is looked down upon across many kingdoms. Frankly, it’s a bad time to be a woman and men are able to do whatever they want. Until the Abbess in Aalwell decides enough is enough and crafts a spell to give women control over one thing that will strike fear in the hearts of men… their fertility. Women no longer can be forced to bear children, the spell makes it so they have to want the child in order to get pregnant. There are other, not planned for effects, which creates issues across the kingdoms for men.

I was a little frustrated with this book until the middle, because the treatment of women is just so bad. It was hard to read at times, but I know this was done on purpose. I was more frustrated because the women weren’t doing anything about it. I was looking for a female power epic fantasy and it wasn’t looking like I was going to get it. However, it started to pick up in the middle with some outright rebellion and experimenting with ways the women could not assert their new powers, which I was all for. There are some redeemable men, which was heartening to see – most of the main men characters are quite terrible though.

There is plenty of action and intrigue as the setting is fairly medieval – kings, queens, and arranged marriages for the sake of the kingdom. The characters find themselves struggling to hold onto the world as they know it and have to make some quick maneuvers to stay ahead of the tide.

I like the main female characters that we get in separate POV’s, they each are trying to get through this oppressive society the best way they can. There’s only one male POV, and his is honestly the worst because he is a terrible person. Quite truly. I’m sure his POV is thrown in there to greater shed the light on the issues with the perception of women.

The ending killed me, even though I had an inkling it was coming. The brutal killing of a character is never fun to read, but even worse when you don’t realize it’s happening and it’s just tossed in for dramatic effect.

I received the sequel, Queen of the Unwanted, through Netgalley which is why I decided to pick up this title. I hadn’t heard of it before Netgalley, but I’m glad I read it as it was right up my alley with epic fantasy. The magic system was well described and thought out, while still being unique and interesting.

Check back in a few weeks for my review of Queen of the Unwanted!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Flatshare

“Being nice is a good thing. You can be strong and nice. You don’t have to be one or the other.” 

Title: The Flatshare

Author: Beth O’Leary

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication date: May 28th, 2019

325 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways. 

Review

It was never home until you were there, Tiffy.

Beth O’Leary, The Flatshare

Hello all! I am on SUCH a romance book kick, probably because it is February and is the month of love! I’ve been in such a fantasy book slump so I’m throwing my TBR out the window and leaned into the romance bug during my last trip to the library. I’ve seen The Flatshare all over Instagram so I knew I wanted to read it, even though it meant reading two British books back to back and having my mental voice talk in a British accent for the next two days!

The Flatshare flips back and forth in POV’s between Tiffy and Leon, two strangers sharing a flat in London. He works the night shift, she works the day shift, they never have to even see each other. Leon’s girlfriend checks her out and concludes Tiffy is not a threat to her relationship (oh how wrong she is) as she is “larger than life” (ack). Tiffy is very eccentric and fun, where Leon is dealing with a lot and is more understated and reserved. Basically, they are opposites. When they start interacting via post it notes in the flat however, their camaraderie is undeniable.

The Flatshare was very adorable. I was waiting with bated breath for them to meet, especially after Leon’s girlfriend dissed her (still hate her). So glad I got the satisfaction of Leon being hopelessly attracted to Tiffy and questioning how Kay could have found her unattractive. Their first meeting is so funny and they really have an easy friendship.

However, The Flatshare is not all lighthearted. Tiffy has a stalkerish, emotionally abusive ex that pops up throughout the book so Trigger Warning. He is honestly terrible and any time his name was printed on the pages I cringed. Ouside of him, the side characters each have their own quirks and reasons for being in the book, which is a big thing for me. I hate when there are whole characters that have no point or purpose to the main characters or the plot.

Tiffy and Leon are exactly what they need from each other at every given time in the book, which for me is proof they are meant to be. Loved it, and very much enjoyed the book.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Bride Test

“Don’t forget to apologize. First with words. Then with your tongue.”

Title: The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)

Author: Helen Hoang

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: May 7th, 2019

296 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

Review

In a split second, she redefined perfection for him. His standards aligned to her exact proportions and measurements. No one else would ever live up to her.

Helen Hoang, The Bride Test

I absolutely adored The Kiss Quotient when I read it a few months ago. I didn’t end of reviewing it on here, otherwise I would link it. I truly adore that both books feature a main character with autism – because everyone deserves a sweet and sexy love story. The Bride Test is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient.

The Bride Test follows Khai Diep, a young man with autism who is really not looking for a girlfriend and Esme Tran, a young mother from Ho Chi Minh City. Khai’s mother travels there to interview potential brides for Khai and to bring the best candidate to America to win him over. Esme jumps at the chance to provide her family a way out of poverty. However, Khai is seriously not pleased with this development and does everything he can to ignore his new roommate, who doesn’t make it easy…

*swoon* Man, Helen Hoang really knows how to make me laugh, my heart pound, and cry all in one books, sometimes multiple times each. From start to finish, I loved these characters and their interactions with each other. Their love is so unique and fun, began neither of them have any clue what they are doing. It is so eye opening to read from the perspective of someone with autism – the rep is done beautifully. Khai goes on such a journey in the book, you can’t help but be proud. And the same can be said for Esme! She makes the most of her opportunity in America and takes adult education classes on TOP of trying to seduce a man who doesn’t want to be seduced. Talk about overachieving.

The first sex scene (and the aftermath) if my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PART of this entire book. Picture this: it’s 1 am, I couldn’t sleep, I’m sitting outside my bedroom on the floor with a flashlight (so as not to wake up the fiance), and I’M DYING of laughter. It is a pure gold scene and I’m here for it. If you’ve read this book, you know what I’m talking about.

Anywho, this was amazing. Go read it ASAP pronto mucho. Read The Kiss Quotient first if you haven’t (it’s not necessary, it’s just also a freaking awesome book).

Happy reading, folks!